(5:45 p.m. EDT) -- It's official: The stomach bug that sickened a staggering 44 percent of the passengers onboard Marco Polo in the British Isles this week was indeed the dreaded Norovirus, according to Scotland's STV News.
The Scottish news outlet reports that NHS Highland made the confirmation today based on samples taken from the afflicted ship. Marco Polo has been docked in Invergordon since Monday while local doctors and nurses tend to the ill; three passengers remain hospitalized (another three have already been discharged).
Transocean Tours terminated the voyage on Tuesday.
According to STV News, approximately 120 passengers opted to return back to London via chartered train; the remaining 600 or so will stay onboard and arrive back in Tilbury on Saturday (the ship will set sail tonight). Upon arrival at Tilbury, passengers unfit to travel will be kept on the ship until they have fully recovered.
At this point, the ship's next voyage on 14 July is expected to sail as scheduled. We'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, Transocean is advising U.K.-based family members with questions to contact its U.K.-based general sales agent, Cruise and Maritime Services International Ltd in Dartford, Kent, on 0845 430 0274 or 07894 478 969 outside office hours.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor